Here is where we help you understand the fine print in a contract.
Obviously selecting an ethical builder with a proven history in trouble free pool building will make your life easy.
Contract sections to consider are:
Access to your property
- The customer agrees to allow access to the property to enable works.
- This may seem obvious but the access requirements must be determined before any works.
- Consideration must be given to the size of earthworks machinery, existing gardens, your favourite rose bush, paving, air conditioners, start times and toilet requirements for workmen.
- The client agrees to supply electric power and the use of water at your home.
- The pool builders will take care of your property of course, but are not usually liable for damage to paving and gardens caused by earthworks.
- It is advisable to discuss the earthworks with the pool designer before the works commence.
- Soil expands in volume around 30% when the machine excavates so a standard pool say 7m x 3.5m will require removal of at least 6 truckloads.
- Dump sites are not always close to the client’s home and cartage costs are difficult to estimate.
- You will be expected to pay for soil cartage in excess of a token distance usually 10kms.
- The extra cost could easily be $3000+.
- Some salespeople forget to advise you about this extra cartage cost and can lead to unhappiness early in the project works.
- In my contracts the cartage is itemized as a contract component.
- A provisional sum allowance with a cost plus formula included in the contract is the safest way for the client.
- The customer acknowledges that the contractor cannot assess the availability and cost of tipping sites prior to excavation.
- When the soil reaches the tip site there is a tip fee charged at the dump site.
- The amount varies from dump sites but could be at least $300/ load.
- A competent truck driver will always be on the lookout for people who will take the soil and hence save you money.
- The pool builder may even have private dump sites to reduce the charges.
- To tip say six truck loads could be another $2000+ and this sum may not have been discussed at point of sale.
- So you can see that it is easy to get a shock when a $5000+ account arrives after earthworks.
- It is a system often used by some builders who have only say 4 hours of digging in their contact and then bill you for the rest. Their contract allows them to do this.
- Again in my contracts this item is sorted before we start works.
- If you are getting quotes be sure to ask them to itemize the tip fees and cartage formula.
- You are locked in to their contract system after you sign the construction contract with the commission salesman.
- The commission salesman gets paid for getting you started and usually has no part in the following arguments about cartage and tip fees.
Underground unexpected obstacles
- Most contracts are based on a sand dig.
- Items such as clay, rock, sewer pipes, gas lines, electrical cables, phone lines, soak wells, and any unexpected underground obstacles can cause surprises and extra charges.
- A professional designer will research these items through the main authorities but it is up to the client to advise the pool builder of any known obstructions.
- Client should contact Dial before you dig and receive free advice.
- When an obstacle is encountered the pool builder advises the client and the work stops.
- The client has the option to remove the obstacles himself or he signs a variation order requesting that the contractor continues the works.
- In my contract variations we always advise the client with a costing formula showing machinery and labour rates for the task at hand and a provisional sum allowance.
- The obstacle is removed or changes made, an itemized account is provided to the customer with the actual invoices for the work.
- Contract variations are paid for at the completion of these specific works.
- The pool contact then continues as per the original agreement.
Contract variations to the pool works
- Almost every client asks about changes as the work proceeds.
- Items such as size, depth, pool shape, tiles, colour, lights etc. are often made.
- We provide a price for the changes and then prepare a contact variation form that is signed by the client.
- My contracts have again a cost plus formula for the pricing and an agreed price before the works are carried out.
- Some variation require both credits and additions to arrive at the variation price.
- Payment is made for the variation prior to carrying out the variation works.
Completion date and delays
- A completion date can be agreed with the client.
- In my experience after 37 years in this business almost all delays are caused by the client.
- The pool builder receives his profit when the contact is completed and hence will always attempt to build the pool within two to three months.
- The contractor shall be entitled to a fair and reasonable extension of time caused by delays beyond the contractor’s control, such as supply of materials, inclement weather, loss of access ti the site, legal proceedings relating to the property and civil commotion.
Cancellation by Customer
- The customer acknowledges that all deposits are non-refundable.
- The contractor is also entitled to a claim for all costs up to the date of cancellation and loss of profits on the entire project.
Special conditions section
This section of the contract allows for special items that are unique to the contact works such as the client having a house under construction or being subject to finance.